For the entire 103 minutes of the September 11 attacks in 2001, I was fast asleep. I actually slept until around 5:00pm Eastern Standard time. I lived in Melbourne, Australia, fourteen hours ahead of New York. I'll never, ever forget being woken by my clock radio (old school) which was set to the hourly news service at 7am. A solemn voice giving me a rundown of those world changing events in less than ten seconds as I first opened my eyes for the day. It jolted me awake. I turned to my girlfriend suddenly alert beside me and asked her to confirm that she'd heard it too. We ran to the living room to see if it was on the television, still with no idea of the scale of it. The first channel I switched to played those infamous images before me. Blow by blow highlights. It seemed completely unreal.
Now I live where it happened. Sometimes, people I meet here tell me their stories of that day. There's literally nothing I can say in response. It's always a conversation I tread through like I'm walking on glass eggshells. But each year, as a news photographer, I cover the anniversary. I watch a city stop and relive that morning. I see families grieve in public for their loved ones that died in public. I'm always wary and always uncomfortable doing it, shooting from a distance to try and get the job done but also give these people their space. I was so far away when it happened. It's not my tragedy.
For the fifteenth anniversary, I worked from sunrise to sunset. Sunrise I started at the Empty Sky Memorial in New Jersey, then shot features at Ground Zero for the reading of the names. I walked over the the Brooklyn Bridge with a Brooklyn fire company and then captured sunset from Brooklyn as the always striking Tribute in Light memorial pierced the sky.